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India rejects US govt report on religious freedom

New Delhi: Just hours after the adverse comments on India by Samuel Brownback, the United States Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, and release of the “2019 International Religious Freedom Report” in the US, India on Thursday said it “sees no locus standi for a foreign entity to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

New Delhi further said there is “robust public discourse in India and constitutionally mandated institutions that guarantee protection of religious freedom and rule of law”.

Interestingly, the US itself is a facing a major crisis at home regarding treatment of its own racial minorities due to incidents of police brutality  that have resulted in massive social unrest among African-Americans and racial tensions.

According to news agency reports from Washington, Brownback expressed concerns eroding religious freedoms in India. Mandated by the US Congress, the “2019 International Religious Freedom Report”  documents major instances of violation of religious freedom across the world and was released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, as per news agency reports from Washington.

In its reaction, the MEA on Thursday said, “The report on international religious freedom for 2019 published by the United States department of state … is published annually by the department of state as part of its legal requirement to the US Congress and is an internal document of the US government.India’s vibrant democratic traditions and practices are evident to the world.”

The MEA added, “The people and government of India are proud of our country’s democratic traditions. We have a robust public discourse in India and constitutionally mandated institutions that guarantee protection of religious freedom and rule of law. Our principled position remains that we see no locus standi for a foreign entity to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.”

It may be recalled that in April this year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had singled out India in its Annual Report for 2020, saying there has been a “sharp downward turn” and “deterioration” in religious freedom in India and recommending to the US State Department that India be designated as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)” along with a few others.

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